Get out your best green garb and pin a shamrock to your collar, Cicerone Ciara is here to show you how to properly celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!
St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, said to have rid the island of snakes. March 17, the date of his death, is celebrated as the Feast of Saint Patrick, or as we have come to know it, St. Patrick’s day.
While seas of green and corned beef and cabbage may be how we’ve learned to celebrate in the United States, it’s a little different in Paddy’s homeland of Ireland. The day is much more focused on culture and community than the commercialized version that’s come to other nations.
Here’s how to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day like the Irish:
Crank up the tunes
Music has been a large part of Irish culture since the days of the Celts. Songs and stories were often used to pass on history, legends, and religion. Today, music can always be heard along any street you walk in Ireland. But on St. Patrick’s Day, don’t expect the fiddle, uilleann pipes, or flutes to stop. There might even be some traditional dancing you can join in!
Cleachtaigh an Teanga (Practice the Language)
Irish Gaelic (Gaeilge) is the first official language of Ireland and one of the oldest languages still in use. It is still the first language of some Irish towns, but English has been adopted in the majority of the rest of the nation. To celebrate its long history, the first two weeks of March leading up to St. Patrick’s Day are dedicated to the celebration and practice of the language. So learn a couple of phrases and impress your new Irish friends!
It’s Paddy, not Patty
Referring to the day as “St. Patty’s” is sure to offend. While the difference between “Paddy” and “Patty” may be too subtle for the ear to notice, spell it the wrong way and you’ll be sure to get an earful. “Paddy” stems as a shortened nickname for Pádraig, the traditional Irish spelling of Patrick. Whereas “Patty” is short for the feminine Patricia.
Toss out the corned beef and cabbage
Corned beef and cabbage isn’t a traditional Irish food, it’s a traditional Irish-American food. When the Irish began immigrating to the US, corned beef and cabbage was a more affordable option compared to a traditional bacon and cabbage dish.
Instead, stop in the pub and warm yourself with Irish stew and some soda bread, accompanied by a side of chips (fries) of course! Or if you’re feeling extra daring, opt for the black and white pudding.
Don’t bother looking for that four-leafed clover
The national plant and symbol of Ireland is actually the shamrock which only has 3 leaves. Traditionally, people pin shamrocks to their clothes, or wear the green, white and orange of the tricolor flag.
Now that you know how to celebrate the proper way, here’s the great craic (fun) that’s going on near you:
- St. Patrick’s Day Parade: Join the locals along Grand Parade and St. Patrick’s Street to enjoy the music and performance of Cork!
- Festival Market: Pop-up shops will offer some opportunities to get souvenirs.
- Lee Sessions: Keep your eye out for Lee Sessions throughout town. The Lee Sessions arrange traditional Irish music performances throughout town and always offer a great opportunity to get to know the locals.
- St. Patrick’s Day Parade: Crank up “Galway Girl” and head downtown to watch the parade as it makes it way along Bridge Street, Main Guard St, Shop Street, William Street, Eyre Square and finally Prospect Hill. It will showcase local artists and different community groups, giving you some insight into the community.
- Seachtain na Gaeilge Festival: Starting March 1, the Irish Language Festival takes over Galway with events to promote the Irish language.
- Aran Celtic Music Festival: Head down to the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway a week early for http://www.dochara.com/events-in-ireland/aran-celtic-music-festival/
Now as you end your day feeling like a true Irishman, or woman, unpin your shamrock from your collar and toss it over your left shoulder for luck. And as the old Irish blessing says:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
Until next time, sláinte!